Philosophy Psychology

These Masks Wear Us

These masks of self obscure only the fact of their own emptiness.

All lives are clichés; recombined, borrowed, recycled – we are the emergent, self-aware patchwork quilts of aggregate idiom, concept and narrative.    We are all quite like actors in our enthusiastic commitment to pretending that we aren’t pretending, that the story flow and narrative that we get swept along with (and as) is anything other than a convoluted fiction and that it has meaning beyond the lights, camera, action of daily roles, a reflex of scripted conventions and responsibilities.

Clichés are masks, like so much of our symbolic life and cognitive practice – they are empty shells which obscure the fact that they obscure nothing at all but a base emptiness. The scripts, scenes and actors vary but the dissimulation of pretense and misdirection is the game and it is played by negation, inversion and an aspiration to complete suspension of disbelief in the fictional essence of ourselves, of these narrative threads of our shared world and daily, waking lives.

We do not wear these masks; these masks wear us. Idioms, generalisations and clichés have an independent existence – like platonic abstractions in some imaginary extension.  We are all just hitching a ride on emptiness.

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